Friday, 31 July 2009

796 - Gary McKinnon

Because we live in a country where a man with Asperger's Syndrome chasing alien conspiracies can be extradited to the USA without any evidence being produced, please stop believing all the big causes have been fought for and won.

At the very least our government has shown cowardice by not stepping in to press for his trial to be held in the UK. At worst it is cruel and dismissive of its citizens. It has got this badly wrong.

I believe in love, in people, in non-violence. But if my government no longer believes in the nation state, I don't see why I should.

Please persuade me otherwise.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

798 - All Right

There's an experience I've had, and it has convinced me that everything is all right.

And if everything was not all right, somehow, after all, I'd still go down fighting for the values that my experience of all-rightness has taught me.

That is, that is-ness is at the heart of things. That all things unfold from it. That it exists before the words I conceive of in order to explain it, to myself, to others. And that love is as good a word for the existence of everything as any other.

That's it, really. From my reading, of religious experience, of philosophy and psychology, I reckon I'm in good, and I'm sure, by the time we pop our clogs, universal company.

So I've been reading Hilary Mantel's novel, Beyond Black, which gives as fine a description of cold-reading as one could hope for (not finished the novel, so there may be twists and turns along the way, but I think I know where it is heading). I've Derren Brown in my bookshelf, and analyses of brainwashing and comparative religion, Michael Shermer, Dan Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Karen Armstrong's latest - a history of not knowing God.

A couple of rows-worth of evangelical Christian books have not been chucked, though the more embarrassing among them I've relegated to the bedroom, along with my collection of poetry.

Enough books about quantum physics, molecular biology and cultural studies line the dining room for me to be clear enough that most interpretations of most things are retrievable, if I browse with a little patience.

And as a librarian, I'm a pretty skilled browser (which is itself the art of cold-reading books).

What I'm wondering is, even if spiritual or psychic experiences were illusions, delusions or frauds, given my conviction that everything is all right, there has to be a way of understanding them that credits them with value, however they come about. And if they have value, that must be enough to justify their existence.


Wednesday, 15 July 2009

799 - Birmingham Moor Street, Late

Started Friday night near the end of a marathon train-ride to my sis, brother-in-law and neph.

Finished this morning.

Monday, 13 July 2009

800 - Skin| Flowers

Detail from a pen and ink drawing on display with pictures by other artists at Restaurant 7 Tapas Bar and Gallery, Whitley Bay, till September 30th.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

801 - What If...

Matter were an emergent property of energy;
Chemistry were an emergent property of matter;
Biology were an emergent property of Chemistry;
Psychology were an emergent property of Biology;
Culture were an emergent property of Psychology;
Love were an emergent property of Culture;
Energy were an emergent property of Love?

Full circle.

200 posts down, 800 to go...

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

802 - Tortoises and Hares - The Rematch

Lovely sky over Ambleside [left a bit from Whitley Bay; down a bit] last week - like Studio Ghibli had gotten hold of it. In the top left corner looks like a hare has just leapt into the lead.

Monday, 6 July 2009

803 - Orange Hat

Windermere YHA, late evening, Saturday week. Completed in Starbucks today. E bought this hat at the start of the holiday. Fairtrade hemp and felt. She's written a poem about it which is rather good.

[See how I disguised E's right hand, the drawing of which I cocked up, by sticking a glass in front of it?]

Friday, 3 July 2009

804 - Grandaddery

A thought which has been loitering for a while:

If we become fertile mid-teens, for most of our species' history this is the time that we'll have started having children.

That means that by the time we are mid-thirties, for most of our species' history, our children will have begun raising their own kids, and we will be starting to fulfil the role of grandparents.

The most well-adjusted child would presumably be the one whose parents, and also whose grandparents, were committed to its welfare. A stable lineage would therefore be more likely to evolve than an unstable one.

The physiology and, as a consequence, psychology behind good grandparenting would over time evolve.

Just as we prepare to become parents as teenagers, we prepare to become grandparents in our thirties. This is also the time that boys in Africa become fully grown men, and people in the West undergo career changes and feel the pressures associated with a midlife crisis.

What if the mid-life crisis is about equipping us to become Grandparents, to the tribe, if not to individual children? A forced change in perspective, away from the direct learning of childhood and early adulthood, towards a frame of mind where what has been learnt is now to be shared with younger generations. If this role was fostered in society, a kind of informal eldership, from mid-thirties onwards, would the impact of middle-age be smoothed away?

If it's natural, my guess is it is happening anyway, and the evidence is probably there in pop culture and stories.

805 - Found Objects, Whitley Bay Beach

On Tuesday evening, along the tide-line, two deflated blue balloons.

In the sky above the beach, two paragliders, circling.